Protecting the environment is one of the most pressing concerns for young people today, and more and more of them are making sure that their voices are heard with national movements springing up to fight for their future.Our local branch of Youth Strike 4 Climate has grown from just two children in May to over 50 at the last protest in June. The next action is planned for September (info FB @worthingclimateaction or YouthStrike4Climate Worthing) but we spoke to the two children who started it all, Etienne, 11, and nine-year-old Travis.
H&N: What inspired you to get the Worthing movement going?
Etienne: “Our cousins who live in Devon, they were doing it, and then seeing all of the news around it was kind of something we wanted to do. I think everyone wants to grow up in a world where you can do things like getting a job or having children and not have to think, well, should I actually be doing this or is it not worth it because of what’s happened to Earth.”
Travis: “I wanted to take part in helping the environment and not just let everyone else start it. I knew that maybe that if we didn’t start it, it might not have started. The other people who did it [in June], I think they did because they heard we were doing it.”
Do your mum and other family members and friends support you?
Travis: “If we were taking time off school and it wasn’t necessary, if people were acting to save the environment, then they wouldn’t want us to do it. But because no one’s doing stuff and we need to spread the word to get people to stop, they support us.”
Etienne: “I am the Eco Council Leader at school so I do talk to the class about it. A lot of friends have asked me questions about it.
“Our family is quite into this sort of thing and eco-friendly so they’ve been very supportive of it. Our uncle and auntie have worked for the Wildlife Trust in different places, so we’ve grown up with that sort of environmental influence, and my dad shows me the videos of Greta Thunberg doing her speeches and the strikes in London and other places that are that much much busier.”
So, do you take inspiration from Greta Thunberg?
Etienne: “Yes, she’s very inspirational. She’s very brave and doing a great thing.”
Where do you see it going next locally?
Ettiene: “Since we started, when it was just the two of us, last time there were a lot more people on the march, so we’ve obviously inspired people, which is really good. And since there’s more people, they can spread the word to more people, who can spread the word to people they know. So I think there’ll be more and more people every time, hopefully.”
Travis: “I think we’ve influenced a lot of people to try and help and not do so many things that are against the environment.”
Do you have any top tips that children can do at home?
Travis: “I think to start off, if you can’t do lots of stuff, when you’re not using your room, turn off lights.”
Etienne: “Whenever we go into shops, and they ask if you want a bag, I ask if it’s plastic or paper. I’ll get it if it’s paper, but if it’s plastic, just think again. And if you can, recycle food waste. Less food waste going to landfill and the composting and that can be used again and it’s kind of a cycle. Just little things like that.”
Where can young people in Worthing go for more information?
Ettiene: “These are some ones you should check out. Worthing Climate Action Network (Worthing CAN) were really great, Michelle came down and sat with us on our first protest, and promoted the second event in Worthing. If you’re quite new to this and you’re interested, they can give you more information.
“Also, Journey to Zero Waste Worthing is how Worthing can be better with recycling, as they say, zero waste. There’s also lots of videos with the strikes up in London and of Greta Thunberg which are very interesting and inspirational.”
There are so many ways in which young people can make a difference and find their voices within our local community. Pick up a copy of Here & Now magazine to find out how you can get involved!